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Late surge propels SOU in tourney opener

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ASHLAND — It was only a matter of time, as usual, before the top-ranked Southern Oregon softball team broke out Friday against Corban. But in the first game of postseason, the wait felt unusually long.

A week after putting the Warriors away with the eight-run mercy rule in four straight games, the Raiders needed a tiebreaking, three-run sixth inning to shrug off a slow start to the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank and win 4-1 Friday at University Field.

With a heavy dose of off-speed junk, Corban starter Lauren Besse had the NAIA’s top-scoring lineup on the ropes until Avery Morehead-Hutsell hammered an RBI triple to the right-field fence that gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead. Allie Stines then squeeze-bunted Morehead-Hutsell in, and two batters later CCC Player of the Year Lauren Quirke found a gap for her second RBI double of the day.

“I thought we did well battling in a close game and making adjustments at the plate later on,” SOU coach Jessica Pistole said. “Now that we’re in the tournament, none of these are going to be easy.”

The Raiders went to 46-3 overall and advanced in the double-elimination tournament to play 17th-ranked and third-seeded Oregon Tech at 2 p.m. today. The Owls won twice on Day 1, defeating Warner Pacific and second-seeded College of Idaho.

Senior ace Gabby Sandoval turned in another complete game to improve to 26-1. She struck out eight and allowed just two hits — both in the fifth inning, where Ivey Uppinghouse hit a game-tying double before Sandoval escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting All-CCC center fielder Makiah Johnson to fly out to the warning track.

Sandoval settled back in over the last two innings, retiring the last six Warriors she saw in order and striking out the side in the seventh.

“Gabby had to work hard and responded well to a battle,” Pistole said, “and I though our defense was strong behind her.”

For the 24th time this season, the Raiders didn’t commit an error.

Two CCC Gold Glove winners also creeped within one hit of becoming the third and fourth players in team history with 200 career hits: Stines, who went 1-for-3 with a run scored, and Olivia Mackey, who had another of the Raiders’ eight hits.

Dating back to 2017, the Raiders have won 10 consecutive CCC Tournament games.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU's Hannah Shimek slides into second base safe during the 5th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU's Rylan Austin snags a line-drive hit for an out during the 3rd inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU's Tayler Walker looks for the call as she gets Corburn's Makiah Johnson for a double play at first base during the 1st inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU's Lauren Quirke connects for an RBI double during the 6th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU's Gabby Sandoval delivers a pitch during the 5th inning.
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
SOU vs Corban in opening game of Cascade Conference Championships at University Field in Ashland Friday afternoon. SOU 4, Corban 1.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune